In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, former Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said he would recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital if he becomes prime minister. “Yes, absolutely”, Salvini said, answering a reporter’s question.
On December 6, 2017, US President Donald Trump reversed decades of foreign policy and announced that Washington would recognize the ancient city as the capital of Israel and move its embassy to Jerusalem. The US move was heavily criticized worldwide.
The fierce debate over Jerusalem’s status was reignited as President Trump said that the whole city belongs to Israel, while other countries maintain that the city must be divided between the Israelis and Palestinians. Following Trump’s decision, Guatemala announced that it would move its embassy to the city of Jerusalem.
Salvini, a prominent Eurosceptic and the leader of Italy’s League party, said that left-wing European parties were hypocritical in their stance towards Israel and said that the activity of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) should be banned in the European Union. The non-profit activist organization promotes various forms of boycotts against Israel until the country meets its obligations under international law – ending what it calls the occupation of Palestinian lands and dismantling the West Bank barrier.
Salvini, who served as deputy prime minister and interior minister from June 1, 2018, till September 5, 2019, chastised the left-wing parties, saying that they seek revenge in courts when they lose elections, as he compared himself to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump, who are facing a corruption trial and impeachment respectively.
Salvini blamed the surge of anti-Semitism in Europe on the rise of Islamic extremism and said that it was being institutionalized by left-wing parties.